« … If we do not pay attention, a country can be divided to infinity … »
Ahmedou Ould Abdallah of Mauritania is certainly the best known abroad, and one of the most respected within the country.
He was minister, ambassador, before being an international civil servant at the United Nations where he was deputy secretary-general to the most senior UN officials for.
Recently, he decided to take voluntary retirement and settled in the country. Its use of time is always loaded, even if it intends to devote most of his time to the center he has just set up: The Centre for Strategy and Security in the Sahel-Saharan Africa (C4S). Desultory conversation with one of the founders of Mauritania, the master of nuance.
Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, the UN
News oblige, we begin by the Libyan crisis. What do you think the consequences could have on our country?
The Libyan crisis has a direct and indirect impact on Mauritania and the Sahel. Among the immediate challenges include the forced return of Mauritanians in Libya and their need for assistance and income-generating activities. This is not evident these days.
There is also the future of Libyan interests invested in our country, mining and banking system in particular.
Moreover, the fate of Libyan weapons looted from stocks, the various trades in this period of uncertainty can not assure security services in the state.
Finally, the regional competition to fill the void caused by the diplomatic end of the Gaddafi regime, it will intensify and what will be the impact on our country?
In addition to these risks, however, there are positives: the end of the public opposition of Tripoli to the democratization of our country and, on another level, records Libyan political and financial for our country, probably available will be made public?
Your center has just organized a day of awareness on the impact of the crisis on the region. Have you had an echo of official governments in the region?
The purpose of this awareness day was to send a message to the leaders of the region – including those of civil society, and our external partners about the seriousness of threats to the Sahel Sahara. The Libyan crisis may exacerbate pre-existing situations: various forms of trafficking in cigarettes, drugs, weapons, migrants. Moreover, the return of seasoned and well-armed fighters in their country of origin, with little or no prospect of work, does not reassure. And this especially as most countries are already open or latent tensions related to their governance, youth unemployment, rapid urbanization, all in a context where armed movements operating for several years.
The conclusions of the meeting were welcomed in and beyond the region. Specifically, it has been considered important for countries to have joined home fronts, to ensure proper transparency in the relations between public institutions and the channels of commerce across borders, to help countries most directly exposed to the immediate consequences of the Libyan crisis, and to assist the Ivorian economy strong so that it serves again as a catalyst for the revival of those countries of the Sahel.
Of course, the cohesion of the new regime of Tripoli and the Libyan reconciliation, including the followers of al-Gaddafi, is essential to peace in Libya itself and throughout the Sahel. Finally, the establishment of a network of journalists, dedicated to the communication, will help raise awareness of risks and threats that their region is the object.
Where is the official seat of the C4S?
The idea of establishing a Center for Strategic Studies is a logical continuation of my long experience of observing and managing internal conflicts. The importance of regional and international dimension of most of these conflicts is often underestimated or even ignored. Thus, a simple abscess turns he quickly endless war if not treated effectively from the beginning. Regional competitions, international interference and monetary interests occult eventually feed and maintain it into a large-scale war (Afghanistan, Colombia, Somalia, former Yugoslavia, Sudan …).
National elites, divided, often bear a heavy responsibility for the misfortune of their country. I am convinced that we must avoid this in the Sahel by quickly finding a solution to terrorism, trafficking and corruption, the phenomenon is often linked. « The Sahel should not become a new concern or be perceived as an additional source of instability for the international community » is the motto.
The Centre therefore covers the Sahel-Sahara stretching from Senegal to Sudan with particular attention to the area between Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. On the website of the Centre (www.centre4s.org), mention is made of countries that are interested or concerned in Benin to Tunisia via the Ivory Coast and Morocco. It is headquartered in Nouakchott. I am pleased to have personally presented the nature and objectives of the Centre at the most senior national leaders, including leaders of political parties. The Centre’s program is already loaded in the coming months.
Compared to another hot topic of national news, how do you see the current administrative census and causes a lot of noise in the black African community?
First, it must be clear. Conduct a national census is quite normal and even mandatory. Some countries do every 10 years. A census helps national authorities to prepare an outline of current and future national policy, based on figures relating to its demographics – age structure, internal migration, urbanization, education, health, employment, retirement, etc..
Given our limited administrative experience in this area (experienced administrators are either retired or unused) and the disappearance of vital records, we could have asked to benefit from national and international expertise. So what is serious in this matter, it is not the census itself, but the perception it is directed against a community.
In this case, perception is often more important than reality. In other words, on this matter as in others, managers must explain and inform people before the implementation of their policies. An information campaign, the establishment of a committee of wise and expert technical support would have avoided this whole mess, including the loss of human life, destruction of property and the negative publicity accompanies it.
ة Obviously, it’s never too late to do. It is not us to serve ourselves and our country to think that the events of 1989 have not been traumatic for all. We have a country open to the sea and the rest of the continent, promising and enterprising people, generous and enduring.
Building on these assets is safer than trying heroism of another era and based on the divisions. If we do not pay attention, a country can be divided to infinity: in rich and poor, regions, ethnic groups, fraternities, etc.. Faced with mistrust, fear and selfishness of men, religious uniqueness is not enough by itself to maintain national cohesion. The Somalis are Muslims, speak and write the same language. Religion has not prevented or stopped a terrible war that has lasted two decades there and largely because of the leaders. Is it just outside interference? No foreign interference can succeed in a country where the elite meet their responsibilities with courage and tolerance. In addition, 50 years later, continue to blame colonialism for our present difficulties has little effect.
You are a founding member of Transparency International. How you react to the prospect of selling the seat of the consulate of Mauritania in France?
Diplomatic relations are established in the long term and thus the address of an embassy or consulate can not nomads at the whim of successive governments and ambassadors. Real estate Mauritania in Paris (residence, chancery, consulate) was transferred to Mauritania by France as part of the succession of States ة.
Today, if the rumors relatively old on the sale of the Consulate in Paris is confirmed, all Mauritanians were arrested. First, this kind of sale of real estate located in historic districts and prestigious, can not become government policy.
Then, eventually acquired the property in exchange for such sales, could he have commercial value and prestige of the historic property sold?
But not least, the property built in the state can be a real estate transaction as if it were just a private good or a contract to operate gas.
The law lays down obligations in this area including: a favorable decision by the Council of Ministers. The operation must be necessary, no public funds should be available to the transaction must be transparent. If these conditions are not met, or if they were purely formal, Mauritanians are entitled to call upon legal advice of the bars of Paris and Nouakchott to defend the interests of the country. In this context it will continue to monitor the situation of chanceries and residences in major cities.